Formula 1 lessons from Istanbul: Bottas saves frustrated Hamilton

Six Formula 1 races before the season finale ousted Max Verstappen Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton from the top spot again. Sebastian Vettel risks too much, Mick Schumacher drags himself over the finish line. What conclusions does the Turkish Grand Prix allow for the title fight?

Verstappen uses his chances in the world championship fight

Max Verstappen never got close to Valtteri Bottas. It was all the more important for the 24-year-old to secure second place. With that, Verstappen took the lead again and is six points ahead of Lewis Hamilton. “Hopefully it will be enough for the World Cup in the end,” he said, “but it won’t be easy.” Verstappen patiently brought home 18 points. Behind him, his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez came third. “It was the best we could get,” said Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, relieved. “What worries us is this unbelievable top speed from Mercedes on the straights, that’s been the case since Silverstone and it seems to be growing. I don’t know if our people have an antidote.”

Hamilton does not succeed in everything

Lewis Hamilton wanted to charge right to the front – or at least get on the podium. In the end, the world champion, who had to start from eleventh instead of first place due to an illegal engine change, had to be content with fifth place. In the World Championship he is now six points behind Max Verstappen. In third place, the 36-year-old did not want to come to the pits in the final phase on degrading intermediates, but the Mercedes command center still brought the angry Hamilton in for fear of a possible flat tire. “My gut feeling was that I should have stayed outside,” he complained. “I am therefore frustrated for not following my instincts.” Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff admitted that Hamilton should have been pitted earlier. However, fifth place was damage control.

Vettel’s risk is punished

The Hessian took even more risk than Hamilton. Frustrated by the constant spinning in the midfield of Formula 1, the four-time world champion persuaded his Aston Martin team to switch to dry tires when there were still deep puddles on the track. Vettel skidded one lap across the course, switched back to intermediates, only finished 18th – and took the wrong decision completely on his cap. The 34-year-old knows: With his current car, highlights cannot be achieved on his own and under normal conditions. The question is, will he see better days at Aston Martin?

Schumacher continues in the learning process

Fernando Alonso apologized. “I’m sorry, I thought there was more space,” said the Alpine veteran, who touched Mick Schumacher’s Haas early in the race on his return to the asphalt after a trip over the curb. The 22-year-old spun and was thrown to the end of the field. Schumacher had hopefully entered the Grand Prix from 14th place – his best Formula 1 starting position so far. Even at the start he was “good at it”, he said. But then the lathe happened and Schumacher dragged himself over the finish line in 19th place. Nevertheless, Schumacher can rate the weekend as a success.

Bottas keeps the World Cup open

In 2022, the Finn will most likely no longer drive for victories at Alfa Romeo, so Bottas’ tenth Grand Prix win on Sunday might be his last. And it had enormous value: For Bottas himself, who is a team player par excellence, but has always pursued his own goals at Mercedes in five years – which he did not achieve because he never beat the now seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton with the same material could be enough. But it was not the first time that he rendered him a valuable service in Istanbul when shooting assistance was needed. Bottas took seven points from Hamilton’s World Cup opponent Max Verstappen. You can be sure of one thing: the Finn gives everything in the Silver Arrows until the last day of work – and could tip the scales in the title fight.

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